By Jeremy Pyle
A lot of times it’s nice to sit on the shore with your line in the water, soaking the sun on your face. Fish or not, it’s almost always an enjoyable experience. The smell of fresh air and the relaxation it gives has a way of making you feel free, versus the normal day-to-day grind of life and responsibilities.
But sometimes you want to catch some fish, and when those times are in front of you, it’s best to get on a boat, track down the fish and get some good ones.
Spring fishing is great in Oklahoma. Since we are offici
ally coming out of winter and the water is warming up, a ton of fish species are spawning, about to spawn or just finishing with their spawn. That means that they are active, and active fish make for exciting fishing. Last weekend chose a great Saturday and the weather was almost as nice as the fishing.
Water temperature sat at just under 60 degrees. The air was chilly in the morning, with a south breeze less than 10 miles per hour. By 10 a.m. it had warmed to almost 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky, so the sunglasses were a needed commodity on the day.
Bait was a bit of an adventure to catch because they were quite spread out. It seemed that the active fish were pushing the shad into shallow water, so we were chasing. The cast net was flinging but each time we would get one, maybe two or three small shad. We really needed about 50 small shad or maybe 25 to 30 bigger shad and we would be covered for the entire trip. After about 20 minutes we got what we needed and headed out to fish.
We went with Chris Baldwin, who owns Chris Baldwin’s Guide Service here in the Oklahoma city area. Great guy, and he definitely put us on the fish. I am used to putting my poles in the water and waiting for a while before you start seeing some action, but this was not the case as we were on the fish within 5 minutes of putting lines in the water. And they didn’t really slow down too much after that either.
When going for big catfish, there are a multitude of ways to string up a pole, but I have read that a Carolina Rig with a circle hook seems to be the most reliable. This type of setup has a weight above the swivel that slides up the line allowing the fish to pick up the bait and swim without feeling the weight.
When they swim away with the bait and circle hook, the line tightens until the circle hook catches locking in the fish. Before this trip, I had tried the Carolina rig, or at least variations of it in the past without much luck, but Chris told me the secret is in the circle hooks. When the fish grabs the bait, don’t try and set the hook. Just start reeling slow and steady. That will allow the circle hook to do its job and it will stop you from yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth. After reeling in all the slack, and when you feel it get heavy, that is when you set the hook.
Thanks for the advice Chris. It works.
Blue catfish were hitting hard and heavy. Shad was the bait of choice that kept them biting. The first blue catfish was caught by Hanna Pyle and weighed right at 15 pounds. That is now her personal best or “pb” as we call it. What a heck of a start!
Ryan Reed caught several fish, including his “pb” blue catfish on rod and reel, and it also weighed in at 15 pounds. Hanna and Ryan at one point were fighting with fish at the same time, hers weighing 12 pounds and his fish weighing just under 10 pounds.
Surprisingly, you don’t have to go into super deep water to catch catfish this time of the year. This trip never saw water over 10 feet deep. Most of the time the water was even more shallow than that. But by the end of the trip we had caught more than 10 good sized catfish. Everything over 10 pounds goes back when fishing with Chris Baldwin, and I was 100% ok with that. We caught plenty of keepers and got to take some pictures to keep for the future.
A boat will almost always give you a leg up when trying to catch fish, but a guide will show you how to actually catch them. This was my first guided catfish trip and it was well worth it. I was able to learn quite a bit from Chris Baldwin, and I would highly recommend going on a guided tour if you want to catch some good sized fish. His boat was quite comfortable and had all the gadgets and high tech stuff that you could ask for. The smiling faces were what I was really looking for, and they were delivered.
To contact Chris Baldwin’s guide service call (405) 508-1191.
As always, thanks for reading the Oklahoma Catfish Report. Check out http://www.yukonprogressnews.com for all of the Catfish Reports.
And keep on fishin’! We have to keep fishing going on into the next generation of fisher people.